Setmana Valenciana (finale)
Spaniard completes splendid week with stage podium in tough final day in Setmana Valenciana; Mavi García also with Alicia -6th overall, 5th today- into strong, nine-woman GC group.
It’s been a really promising start to the 2018 season for the Movistar Team girls this week, as young Spaniard Alicia González crowned an impressive four days of racing by the whole Blue squad on the final stage of the Setmana Valenciana -118km, three laps in and around Benidorm-, where offensive, exciting racing was all over the place.
The race broke into pieces already into the first of three ascents to the Alto de Finestrat (Cat-2), where a long push from Lorena Llamas and a series of attacks by some GC riders soon left only nine riders ahead. Uttrup / Moolman (CBT), Barnes / Ferrand-Prevot / Niewiadoma (CSR) and Duval / Gillow (FDJ) were joined by two from the Movistar Team: González and Mavi García, for whom Alicia initially spent lots of energy in order to try and make the race even harder and more suitable for her colleague.
Despite the fast pace into the final climb, helped by insistent accelerations from Alicia and Mavi herself, the nine-woman group -which had built a massive, 3’30” gap over a second group featuring Llamas, Eider Merino and, at points, Lourdes Oyarbide- came together to the finish. Barnes won the stage and the GC over Moolman (2nd) and a fantastic González (3rd), who thus secured her podium finish. In turn, García finished 5th in the stage and sixth overall.
Ten top-ten finishes and two overall podiums -both individual and also in the team GC, 2nd behind Canyon- have been obtained by the Jorge Sanz-led squad in Spain. However, the best news from the week was seeing the ladies of this new Movistar Team project showing true commitment and excellent bond and atmosphere in and out of racing, which they will try to keep as they tackle the most prestigious classics in the UCI Women’s WorldTour starting next week.
REACTION, Alicia González:
“I’m really happy and, above that, really surprised. I feel like I’ve taken a big step forward this winter when it comes to climbing. I used to be a fast girl into small group finishes, but I didn’t really stay with the top ones into the climbs. Seeing myself so strong, especially into that nine-woman group at the final day, is the most positive thing I’ll take home from this race. I got so much support from the team before stage one, especially from Jorge, who believed I could get through the climbs and contest the stage win. I had some doubts, but I realized I was doing well into the Barxeta climb, then didn’t struggle really much later on in the Barx ascent, and I believed I could do it – I gave my 100% every single day and even though about going for it today.
“Getting into such a strong group, Mavi and I, against teams like Canyon, Cervélo, FDJ… neither my team-mates nor I could think about such a result. We’re pretty much as strong, all ten of us, and that will make easier for everyone to work for each other in every race, so we can get some good results. Now it’s time to think about the big classics. Strade Bianche is already a WWT one, with top riders and teams, but if we were able to shift our expectations here, why not doing the same in Italy? We’ve got to go step by step, though, yet keeping confidence and trying to feel as we did this week.”
Picture (c): Movistar Team